Wednesday, 31 March 2010

NICKELBACK - The good, the bad, and the suck

Nickelback are my favourite band to talk about. Why is that?

Because everybody hates them. So much.

I know exactly why everyone hates them. I know all the songs they hate. I hate some of those songs too. You can't get past the fact that some of those songs are really contrived and awful.

So why post about this band that everybody hates?

Well, to put it bluntly: I fucking love Nickelback.
"Oh dear", says the reader. "First he says he likes t.A.T.u, now Nickelback?! This blog has no credibility, all he listens to is pure SHIT!"

Touche, my dear reader. If you've come to that conclusion then fair enough. I listen to more than shit, I just like talking about the crap music I listen to. It creates a more interesting discussion than a group of potheads all agreeing that Pink Floyd is the best band of all time.

So, back to Nickelback. The band responsible for an ugly dude with huge ears (and bleached straightened hair now!) singing in an annoying growly voice, and all those songs that will never stop playing on the radio. How you hate them indeed.

But I'm willing to wager that all of those people who hate Nickelback have never heard, and definitely do not own, a single album. They have only heard what Nickelback has released, and this has done the band a whole world of good, as well as generating an equal amount of hatred.

Personally, I think that Chad Kroeger is a genious. Up until the most recent release, "Dark Horse" anyway.

Lets go all the way back to the beginning, to a badly produced debut album called Curb. As the first album, the die hard fans will insist that this is the best album. In many ways, it could well be. The songwriting is better, the vocals are very raw, the guitar riffs are heavy and ferocious, and there is not even a trace of the major-label sheen of the radio friendly Nickelback we know and hate. Curb is most definitely firmly rooted in the Grunge era, with influences of heavy, southern rock. Chads lyrics are dark and metaphoric, not the cheesy arrogant drivel he sings these days.

Then another album, The State. Again, the production is questionable (thin buzzy guitar tone for one) but is far from what they sound like now. The lyrics are still metaphoric, sometimes dark, sometimes joking. The sound has a lot more country and rock elements, but still with some of the grunge aggression of the first album, with even heavier riffs and some sweet vocal arranging.

Now, a lot of you have probably never heard of these albums, but from reading the description it sounds like a totally different band. In fact, maybe it sounds like a...dare I say it..."good" band. So how did this band turn into Nickelback, the radio rock made out of pure suck?

Well, the next album was Silver Side Up. The one which had that song on it. You know the song.

How You Remind Me was a revelation to Nickelback. Two albums already and not much wide recognition. Suddenly this song comes out and everyone goes batshit crazy!

You mean to tell me that people don't like dark, metaphorical and artsy lyrics, or heavy ass guitar riffs and pure raw rock attitude? You mean to tell me they prefer a catchy chorus that they can sing along to?

You bet your fucking life they do. You may not like it, but that is the way of the world.

And here is where the clincher comes, this is the point I am getting at. I love Nickelback, and I continued to buy every album they released, but I did not do all this because I loved the hook-laden radio-friendly songs which they released as singles (and took away the distorted guitars and guitar solos - you'd better believe it!). No, my dear readers, the awesome capabilities of Nickelback have always lain within the confines of the rest of the album.

The two albums following Silver Side Up (The Long Road and All The Right Reasons) contained, at most, 3 or 4 radio friendly songs. These will be the ones that people know. All the rest of the songs are riff heavy, balls-to-the-walls awesome.

Which is why I think Chad is a genious. He knows why Silver Side up made them famous. He knows how to lure the mainstream crowd. But he also knows that he loves heavy riffs and the stuff that they used to play before they got big, and he knows that as long as he continues to deliver that, the old fans will still stay on for the ride and not proclaim "omg they are teh sell-outz!"

And so it remained, until the release of Dark Horse. This album is, what I truly and honestly believe, will be the beginning of Nickelback's downfall. Rejoice, haters of Nickelback - soon they shall be gone forever!

Why do I say this, if I love them so much?

Well, they've strayed from the formula. Instead of having the 3-4 radio songs as singles and the rest of the album as a compilation of awesome, they've decided to try blending the two. That means heavy riffs combined with cheesy catchy hooks.

And that, my friends, is the equivalent of punk pop.

So Chad has cut his hair, bleached it and straightened it, in an attempt to look like he's 20 years old again, when he's really almost twice that (if not more). He's abandoning the fans who have stuck by them amidst all the hatred and pseudo-selling-out and focusing on the 12 year old girls who like it when he sings "I'd Cooooome for you".

Everyone knows that abandoning fans, especially the long timers, is a BIG mistake.

Nevertheless, they still have a library of bloody great music, which you should listen to. Skip the songs you know and listen to the rest. If you listen in reverse order, the production gets less glossy and loud, but the music gets a lot more interesting. Then maybe - just maybe - you may start to like Nickelback too.

But then again, Nickelback suck.

Keep loving music,

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